During an eight-season run that ended in 2006, “Will & Grace” earned 83 Emmy nominations, winning 16, including comedy series and prizes for its four primary cast members: Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” snagged 39 Emmy nods for its first eight seasons, with seven of those seasons earning comedy series nominations. As its creator, Larry David, would put it: Pretty, pretty good.
Following long layoffs, both shows figure to return to Emmy prominence this year. One reboot that won’t: “Roseanne,” which ABC cancelled Tuesday after its star, Roseanne Barr, posted a racist slur about former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. The cancellation puts hundreds of people out of work and likely scuttles the chances of series regulars John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, longtime Emmy favorites who could well have been nominated again this year. It’s hard to imagine voters supporting anyone associated with the show now.
In the wake of “Roseanne’s” removal, here’s how the comedy acting races are shaping up ...
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Will & Grace”
Possible spoilers: “GLOW,” “The Good Place,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
In the mix: “Modern Family,” “One Day at a Time,” “Arrested Development,” “Better Things,” “Baskets,” “Insecure,” “SMILF”
Analysis: Three-time winner “Veep” is sidelined with Julia Louis-Dreyfus undergoing cancer treatment. “Master of None” didn’t return, and even taking into account Emmy voters’ loyalty (or lack of imagination, if you prefer), “Modern Family” would seem iffy to return this year for a ninth consecutive time. (If it did, it would tie “All in the Family.” “Cheers” and “MASH” share the record for series nominations with 11.)
So there are openings, slots that could be filled with excellent new shows like HBO’s clever, complex “Barry” and Amazon’s engaging “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Netflix’s briskly paced women’s wrestling comedy “GLOW” wasn’t quite in that league but deserves consideration, as does NBC’s brainy, bubbly “The Good Place,” which turned in a superb second season.
But history tells us Emmy voters don’t easily break with tradition, meaning both “Will & Grace” and “Curb” will likely return, even for seasons that didn’t come close to matching their best. “Roseanne” wasn’t nominated during its creative peak, so it was unlikely to make the cut even before its cancellation. Of the trio, it was the most interesting series in its efforts, flawed as they were, to engage with controversial topics. It’s unfortunate that its star’s careless, racist action killed it.
COMEDY LEAD ACTRESS
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Alison Brie, “GLOW”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”
Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Possible spoilers: Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”; Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”
In the mix: Kristen Bell, “The Good Place”; Issa Rae, “Insecure”; Frankie Shaw, “SMILF”; Tiffany Haddish, “The Last O.G.”
Analysis: Louis-Dreyfus has won this Emmy so many times now — six straight years — that it’s hard to imagine awards night without her making a speech. Louis-Dreyfus’ absence will help mitigate the fact that there was a surplus of nominees (seven) here last year. Newcomers Brosnahan (Louis-Dreyfus’ likely successor) and Brie deserve spots, and it would be a shame if voters didn’t welcome back Adlon, whose show was even better in its second season. It’s a crowded category. Maybe the vote will be close enough to result in another bonus nominee.
COMEDY LEAD ACTOR
Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Eric McCormack, “Will & Grace”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets”
Possible spoilers: Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
In the mix: Tracy Morgan, “The Last O.G.”; Hank Azaria, “Brockmire”; Iain Armitage, “Young Sheldon”; John Goodman, “Roseanne”
Analysis: If you’ve seen Hader’s turn as the deadly hit man and wannabe actor in “Barry,” you know he absolutely belongs here. Playing a man burdened by guilt and desperate to believe in the possibility of redemption, Hader’s detached acting on the series is a revelation, far removed from his comic brilliance on “Saturday Night Live.”
But to earn a nomination, Hader will have to leapfrog perennials like David (five acting nods), Macy (nominated the past four years for “Shameless”) and McCormack (four nods). And there’s also Danson, a 15-time nominee, effortlessly inventive as the human-loving demon on “The Good Place.” Goodman, nominated seven times during “Roseanne’s” original run, is now probably out of the picture.
COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Megan Mullally, “Will & Grace”
Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Rita Moreno, “One Day at a Time”
Zazie Beetz, “Atlanta”
Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”
Possible spoilers: Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”; Judith Light, “Transparent”; D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”; Jessica Walter, “Arrested Development”
In the mix: Laurie Metcalf, “Roseanne”; Jennifer Lewis, “black-ish”; Yvonne Orji, “Insecure”; Sarah Goldberg, “Barry”
Analysis: “Saturday Night Live” and “Transparent” dominated this category last year, with “SNL” women snagging three nods (McKinnon, Jones and the departed Vanessa Bayer) and “Transparent’s” Light and Kathryn Hahn earning two. (Hahn didn’t appear in the show this past season.) There should be much more variety this year, with past winner Mullally returning, the caustic Borstein a shoo-in and Moreno and Beetz winning spots they should have earned in 2017. With two-time winner Metcalf likely a casualty of the “Roseanne” fallout, the last spot should go to Gilpin, fantastic in “GLOW” playing a former soap star and stay-at-home mom who puts her daytime drama background to good use in the wrestling ring.
COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR
Sean Hayes, “Will & Grace”
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Louie Anderson, “Baskets”
Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”
Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Possible spoilers: Henry Winkler, “Barry”; Marc Maron, “GLOW”; Kumail Nanjiani, “Silicon Valley”
In the mix: Tony Hale, “Arrested Development”; Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”; Lakeith Stanfield, “Atlanta”; Zach Woods, “Silicon Valley”; Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Analysis: Baldwin won for his take on Trump last year, but the impersonation has begun to wear thin, particularly in light of Baldwin’s social media trolling. McKinnon — whether playing Jeff Sessions or Rudy Giuliani — consistently runs rings around him in terms of inspiration and spark. He doesn’t deserve another nomination, particularly at the expense of Winkler’s hilarious work as the dictatorial acting teacher on “Barry” or Stanfield’s note-perfect, eccentric timing on “Atlanta.” There’s not a better Emmy episode than Stanfield dealing with the surreal, encroaching horror in “Atlanta’s” “Teddy Perkins” episode, a story that, like much of the show’s second season, examines fame and family and what happens when the two overlap.